CHAPTER VII
Romantic Comedies

ALTHOUGH 'NOT WITHOUT RIGHT' was the motto attached to John Shakespeare's brave new coat of arms, the successful dramatist could certainly have claimed that he was the industrious architect of his own fortunes. But, while he was still founding them, he may have received some help; and Rowe announces that 'he had the honour to meet with many great and uncommon marks of favour and friendship from the Earl of Southampton', including a display of aristocratic munificence 'so singular . . . that if I had not been assured that the story was handed down by Sir William Davenant, who was probably very well acquainted with his affairs', as a cautious biographer he would have preferred to disregard it: namely, that 'my Lord Southampton, at one time, gave him a thousand pounds, to enable him to go through with a purchase which he heard he had a mind to'. This bounty, adds Rowe, was 'very great, and very rare' at any period, being 'almost equal to that profuse generosity the present age has shown to French dancers and Italian eunuchs'. Large enough in the year 1709, the sum was extravagant by Elizabethan standards--after all, Shakespeare paid only £60 become the master of New Place, with barns, gardens and appurtenances; and, should we remove a zero and reduce the amount to a hundred, it remains an uncommonly lavish gift. Yet, since the story was derived from Shakespeare's godson, it may have had some solid basis; and Shakespeare may have employed the money either to purchase a share in the Chamberlain's Company during the latter months Of 1594, or--which appears less probable: by that stage he

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Shakespeare: A Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Chapter I - Childhood and Youth 17
  • Chapter II - London Apprenticeship 41
  • Chapter III - The Climate of the Age 66
  • Chapter IV - Early Poems 95
  • Chapter V - 'His Sugared Sonnets' 120
  • Chapter VI - Romeo and Juliet 141
  • Chapter VII - Romantic Comedies 166
  • Chapter VIII - Historical Drama 196
  • Chapter X - A New Reign 252
  • Chapter XI - Othello and Antony 274
  • Chapter XII - 'Unaccommodated Man' 298
  • Bibliography 335
  • Index 339
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